Where I get a little stroppy is when we identify good writing as literary, which is what we're in danger of doing when we start talking about 'serious writing' in the genres.
Now to me, Literary Fiction is writing that experiments with the forms and conventions of literature. Telling story is not essential. Consideration of important themes and the human condition is.
(You ever notice how LitFic doesn't make you laugh much? Ah. Thought you had.)
Genre Writing -- or Popular Writing, Commercial Writing, or whatever you call it -- doesn't generally play around with the forms and conventions of writing. In genre, story is primary. It's central and essential. Exploration of important themes and consideration of the human condition ... optional.
Some of it's even funny.
There's good genre fiction and bad genre fiction, of course, just as there's good LitFic and bad LitFic.
(And I will venture to say that bad writing with pretensions is worse than ordinary, run-of-the-mill bad writing with Scottish Lairds romping half naked through the gorse bushes.)
But being well written doesn't turn genre fiction into LitFic any more than being poorly written turns LitFic into genre.
They're different beasts.
If somebody wants to use 'serious fiction' or 'legitimate fiction' or 'legitlit' to describe excellent writing in a few selected genres, there's no reason he shouldn't do so . . .
. . . though I gotta say we already have a term for excellent popular fiction. We call these books 'excellent popular fiction'. We call them 'great genre stories'. We use the term for books that are well and skillfully realized, but resolutely oriented toward storytelling and accessibility. These are our best. These are the pride of the genre. They reflect glory on everyone who writes it.
They're ours. So there. (Thumbs nose.)
I don't like critics coming in and trying to sneak our best genre books out the side door into something marked 'serious literature'.
The notion that a well-written genre book wins the prize of no longer being genre and that genre is crap because there are no well-written books in it is as circular as the Eye on London or the moon or some other big, noticeably circular thing.
Says, I, speaking from my collection of infallible opinion that I just happen to have in this bag here.